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U.S. Sen. Barack Obama confronted rumors that he is a secret Muslim in a conference call with the Jewish news media. “It is very important for everybody to know that it is fake,” Obama, a Democratic presidential contender, said Monday.

The Illinois senator spoke with the Jewish media minutes before he was due to receive a key endorsement from U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.). Obama listed falsehoods that appeared in an e-mail campaign aimed at Jewish voters.

“I never practiced Islam. I was raised by my secular mother. I have been a member of the Christian religion and an active member of a church,” he said. “I was sworn in with my hand on my family Bible and have said the Pledge of Allegiance since I was 3 years old.” Obama, who also answered questions about his Iran and Israel-Palestinian policies, as well as noting that he had rebuked his church’s past association with Louis Farrakhan, concluded: “My strong and deep commitment and connection to the Jewish community should not be questioned.”

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